The world over, it seems, citizens of France are seen as having a strong tradition of radical class struggle. Paradoxically, it is seen as being very alive but also being very out of date. The recent radicalization of a number of local and national conflicts within France, as well as some other spectacular actions largely covered by French and international media, were taken as vestiges of the direct action strategy developed at the beginning of the twentieth century. For example, Ancelovici (2011: 132) observed: ‘Social movement scholars often associate radicalism with the use of particular modes of action. For example, Sidney Tarrow and Hanspeter Kriesi treat, respectively, the diffusion and intensification of disruption and the increasing use of violence as an indicator of radicalization. Following this logic, the growth of certain forms of labour contention since the 1990s in France could be interpreted as the sign of a renewal of labour radicalism. The “boss–nappings” of 2009 and 2010 and the blockage of oil refineries during the protests in the fall of 2010 were presented as such by the media.’ More recently action has been taken that was successfully aimed at attracting media attention, such as small farmers bringing sheep to town, or workers brandishing Lejaby lingerie during their demonstrations against redundancy – a giant patriotic brassiere in the national tricolour of red, white and blue which they had made.
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